August 16

Things to Avoid in Iceland


Anywhere you travel there are always things you need to avoid. Depending on where you go, there are different concerns and things to watch out for. Iceland is, of course, no exception. So here is a list of a few things to avoid in Iceland.

Don’t Leave Your Coat at Home!

If you’re travelling to Iceland during the winter you’re probably on top of this. In fact, most visitors I meet during the winter are pleasantly surprised, as Iceland’s temperatures are milder than the name would suggest. So I’m going to assume that all our winter guests come prepared for the cold. That said, I often get guests on our Free Walking Tour that are woefully underdressed, so if you plan on joining us for that, make sure you dress accordingly. We don’t make any indoor stops on the tour, so if you don’t wear layers, you might get utterly miserable.

If you travel to Iceland in the summer, however, you must take care to pack some layers as well. Don’t trust the weather forecast, as it can change at a moment’s notice. And if you’re here for more than a day or two it’s very unlikely you’ll be lucky enough to have nice weather the whole time. The temperature is a fickle mistress in Iceland, and the winds can change at a moment’s notice. I like to say we have four seasons – per hour. So no matter when you come, make sure you prepare for the worst. It’s better to pack a few extra garments that you don’t need than to be shivering the whole time you’re here.

Don’t Pay for Water!

I’ve mentioned this before, but it bears repeating. There is never a good reason to pay for water in Iceland. The tap water is pretty much the exact same thing as the bottled water, so you’re not only wasting your money for no good reason, you’re also contributing to excess plastic waste.

It is a personal pet peeve of mine to see supermarket shelves lined with water – something we all get for free over here. I think it’s a terrible tourist trap and I make a point of telling all my visitors about it. If you do one thing for me, please don’t buy bottled water.

Icelandic Beer

Don’t Buy Beer at the Supermarket!

Again, I’ve gone over this before, but it’s important. Don’t fall for the supermarket beer trap. There are NO alcoholic beverages at the supermarket. The only place to buy alcoholic beverages is the state run liquor store, Vínbúðin. The shelves at certain markets can be really deceiving so I want to make sure there’s no confusion here: Nothing you can buy outside of a state run liquor store or a bar/restaurant will be alcoholic. It’s against the law. So don’t fall for that.

Things to avoid in Iceland

Don’t Drive Off Road!

This is important. Off road driving is completely illegal and taken very seriously in Iceland. If you rent a car capable of off roading – DON’T DO IT! Not only does it cause often irreparable damage to the landscape, it is also punishable by death.

No, that’s a lie. No death penalty here. But the fines are huge. So please, or your sake and ours, never, ever, leave the road on a vehicle (except to park on the shoulder or something legal).

Don’t Be Unsanitary at the Pool!

Things to avoid in IcelandThe swimming pools are a fantastic thing to do for fun. And a very Icelandic thing to do. We are all obsessed with our swimming pools and love to hang out in the hot tubs and talk about life. I thoroughly recommend it as nice time that’s not too expensive. You can find out about the different pools around Iceland on the official swimming pool website.

There is one thing, however, that you must be aware of. At the swimming pools in Iceland you are REQUIRED to shower without a bathing suit before going in and after getting out. If you fail to do so you might get yelled at by angry, naked Icelanders. No one wants that.

By the way, this is not a joke. People do, on occasion, get yelled at for improper pool etiquette. Don’t let that be you.

Don’t Underestimate Nature!

Iceland is a beautiful country, and the landscape is  unique. So it’s understandable that people want to venture out and find some of the more amazing locations to explore. Which is absolutely recommended. The safest way to do so is of course to go out with an experienced guide who can take you around some of those wonderful places in a safe and confident manner. We have several adventure tours listed with our partner companies that you can book through our web site. Follow Me gets a small commission off those that go into our marketing costs, and help us to bring our Free Walking Tour and other services to more visitors, and that of course helps us out a lot. We really appreciate it if you make any bookings through us.

However, if you want to save a bit of money, or if you just want to travel independently, that’s a fun thing to do and it is absolutely doable. Just make sure you know what you’re doing. Take care to have the proper equipment (especially a good guidance system), make sure you have your route mapped out in advance, and whatever you do, do not underestimate nature.

The weather can change on a dime in Iceland. You could start driving in perfect conditions and find yourself in a blizzard, unable to see, an hour later. The weather forecast is good, but it can be wrong. Make sure you prepare for any eventuality.

Also, never be afraid to call for help. There is no shame in that. Search and rescue teams are great in Iceland, and if you get in trouble, don’t hesitate to call them. There is also a 112 app, which gives your location to the police at all times, so if you get lost or stuck somewhere it’ll be very easy for them to find you.

Get the app here for Android!

Get the app here for IOS!

Whatever you do, make sure you make it home alright. Taking every precaution is always worth it in the end.

Have a safe trip

I hope this list is helpful. I kid around a bit, but my main goal is just to make sure that your trip is safe, fun and as enjoyable as it can possibly be. If there’s anything else we can do to help you out, don’t hesitate to contact us through the message box on our web site or via email.

Has this been helpful?

I hope this list has been helpful and has given you some ideas for your visit to Iceland. If you need any information, do not hesitate to get in touch. If this has been useful, I hope you will consider booking your tours, accommodation, flights or activities through this web site. It won’t cost you any extra, I make sure to only list the very best partner companies I can find, and it does help me to run this site and market my tours and activities. I appreciate you and hope you have a great visit in Iceland.


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  • You are a wealth of information! This information helps with planning our trip . See you in November. We are planning on taking your walking tour on 11/24.

  • Thanks for all your help. , we’re hoping to come on your tour next week!
    Do restaurants, cafes and bars offer free tap water if you ask or is it always bottled?

    • Hi! Can’t wait to see you next week. 🙂
      Everybody serves tap water. And it’s always free. I remember hearing about some greedy place charging for water, but that was a while ago, and I don’t think it worked out very well for them.

      In the (very) unlikely event that somebody tries to charge you for water at a café or restaurant, you should probably leave that establishment. They’re clearly trying to rip you off.

      Have a great trip!

  • All your information is extremely interesting, I’ve finally aware where I must go! A life goal of Mine! Thank you so much for the information! I wish you Happiness in your lives!

  • Thank you, this is very helpful! We will be there in 9 days! quick question – in all of the pictures of people at the pool (yes, I will shower first…LOL), I don’t see anyone wearing a cover-up or t-shirt. I prefer to wear a t-shirt over my bathing suit – is this acceptable? Thanks!

    • Hi there! So glad this was helpful. And thanks for the great question. I think it’s safe to say it’s not acceptable. Although I’ve never seen a sign explicitly forbidding it, I have also never in my life seen anybody wear a T-shirt to the pool, so at the very least it would be frowned upon.

  • Hi Eyvindur
    You guys are doing a great job.
    We did day walk with your offsider, the guy who says his name does not start with P even though the name on his jacket does? We had great fun. Travel here reminds of New Zealand a smaller country with great tourism and rye and whacky senses of humour. Keep it up! I am from Australia but I think we have lost the plot a bit.
    We did the Lights last night big success. Did Golden Circle today. Both had great commentary, traces of that humour too.
    But an innocent piece of advice (?) amused us, I quote (added lady part of course)
    At the Golden Waterfall the small building to the left is the toilets 200 cr entrance fee that also gives you entry to an exhibition of the Golden Waterfall or was it Shower my Icelandic is a bit rustic?

  • Is it okay if i share this on Pinterest?
    and thanks for the information see you next autumn in Iceland probably my (parents already booked) Do you know anything about the famous blue lagoon is it really a tourist trap? or has it healing powers and is it really great water thats all.

    • Hi there. Of course you can! That would be great for us.
      The Blue Lagoon is a unique place, and many feel they must visit it, but I would say that it’s completely up to you. It’s not a tourist trap, in my opinion, though.
      We actually have an article about it, right here.

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